- TRAI on December 7th ordered telcos to allow port out SMS on every tariff plan
- Vodafone Idea appealed in TDSAT against TRAI order and won
- TRAI appealed in Delhi High Court and got a stay on the TDSAT order
The Delhi High court has stayed TDSAT’s order which prevented the sector regulator from taking any coercive action against Vodafone Idea for not allowing subscribers with certain tariff plans to port out. The setback to Vi comes at a time when the third-largest telco is trying to prevent customers from joining its rivals and at the same time, hiking its tariff plans.
The High Court’s order came on the back of an earlier order by Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) which in December, in turn, stayed the sector regulator’s orders which allowed subscribers to port out of their network from their service provider irrespective of their tariff plans.
TRAI had appealed against TDSAT’s December order to the Delhi HC. Vi (the appellant) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India clashed when the latter on December 7 had ordered telcos to allow subscribers to be able to port out to another telecom operator, irrespective of their prepaid or postpaid tariff plans. Vi went to TDSAT against the regulator’s order.
Earlier, Reliance Jio Infocomm had alleged that Vi and Bharti Airtel tariff plans, disallowed consumers below a certain pricing threshold from porting out. Jio had said that as per Vi’s new tariff plans for prepaid consumers, SMS services had been moved to a higher tariff plan of Rs 179 – from Rs149 – which would discourage subscribers from porting out to other service providers
Mobile number portability (MNP) requires subscribers to first send an SMS to their service operator. Upon the MNP request’s approval, a further process is initiated which may take three to five days for the user to move to a rival telco while retaining the same number. Vi, which lost 18.8 million users just in the last year, ended the September quarter with 253 million users. The loss-making telco is desperate to arrest and then reverse the trend of subscriber losses. It had 408 million subscribers at the time of the merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular in August, 2018.